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While most of the time enthusiasts are playing around with the latest and greatest, the cheaper low performance platforms are usually the high volume movers. As we explained in our Kabini review, AMD has taken the unusual step of producing an upgradable platform for as little as $74. The motherboards for the AM1 Kabini platform range from $31 to $47, and today we are reviewing the GIGABYTE AM1M-S2H which retails at $35.

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<p><span style="font-size: small;"><font color="#444444" face="Arimo, sans-serif"><span style="line-height: 21px; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 1px; -webkit-text-stroke-color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0); background-color: rgb(246, 246, 246);">One of AMD&rsquo;s main selling points it likes to promote is towards the gamer, especially those on a tighter budget. This subsequently suggests to the motherboard manufacturers to build models oriented for gaming. MSI&rsquo;s Gaming Range has become a solid part of MSI&rsquo;s plethora of motherboards, and now this extends to the FM2+ platform. Today we review the MSI A88X-G45 Gaming.</span></font></span></p> <p><span style="font-size: small;"><a href="http://www.anandtech.com/show/8351/msi-a88xg45-gaming-review" target="_blank">Read more...</a></span></p>

With every new chipset release, a large part of the community is always interested in the smaller form factor builds. Building a small yet powerful system seems to be an expanding niche, and for Intel’s Z97 platform we took three of the cheaper mini-ITX motherboards to see how they compare. The ASRock Z97E-ITX/AC, the MSI Z97I AC and the GIGABYTE Z97N-WIFI are all between $130 and $140, all feature 802.11ac support but vary in other connectivity, ease of use and their packages. We compared all three.

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<p><span style="font-size: small;">The initial set of Z97 reviews demonstrated that most motherboard manufacturers were implementing at least one the new storage options offered by the chipset: SATA Express and M.2. The motherboard we are testing today, the Z97-Pro, uses both but incorporates a switching system so only one is active at the time. Similarly to the Z97-Deluxe which we have reviewed, ASUS&rsquo; new brushed metalling gold design is here on the Z97-Pro as well.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: small;"><a href="http://www.anandtech.com/show/8249/asus-z97-pro-wifi-ac-review" target="_blank">Read more...</a></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: small;">Overclocking motherboards are here to stay. The $200 overclocking motherboard market seems to be growing, even when overclocking is limited to specific processor SKUs. &nbsp;Intel&rsquo;s Devil&rsquo;s Canyon models or Anniversary Pentium have been launched recently, specifically for overclockers to have more fun until the next generation. GIGABYTE&rsquo;s 8-series overclocking motherboards were very well received, so it was a no-brainer to release upgraded models for 9-series. Today we are reviewing the Z97X-SOC Force, a $210 member of the punch-counterpunch in this market segment.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: small;"><a href="http://www.anandtech.com/show/8176/gigabyte-z97xsoc-force-review" target="_blank">Read more...</a></span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p>

Asus A88XM-Plus and Gigabyte GA-F2A88XM-D3H are similar to each other. They are similar by specs and price, made by first-tier manufacturers, based on AMD A88X chipset and have a micro-ATX form-factor appropriated to low-cost systems. But let’s take a look to their differences.

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ASRock has a history of bringing new features to motherboards where others can tread conservatively. In recent generations, this means the Extreme11 range with an onboard LSI3008 for SATA ports, or the C2750D4I, an octo-core Atom platform with 64GB DRAM support and 12 SATA ports on a mini-ITX. For the ASRock Z97 Extreme6 we have an M.2 slot that runs at PCIe x4, with lanes taken direct from the CPU. We test the motherboard, the performance of this slot, and the effect of dual-GPU gaming with four CPU PCIe lanes tied up in storage.

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<div><span style="font-size: small;">At $260, today&rsquo;s review of the MSI Z97 MPower Max AC is the odd one out of our initial Z97 reviews. The previous two reviews both use SATA Express to expand their storage options; however the Z97 MPower Max AC diverts this investment towards other features, such as an integrated power delivery water cooling system and more USB 3.0 ports. Given the lack of SATA Express drives on the market today, we examine the MSI motherboard to see if this means much for future-proof system building.</span></div> <div><span style="font-size: small;"><br /> </span></div> <div><span style="font-size: small;">As the big focus of Z97 is supposed to be on the new storage features, it might come as a bit of a surprise when a high-end motherboard does not have all the ports needed to provide them. There could be two reasons for this &ndash; either the lack of drives on the market, or because it makes the PCIe lane routing easier. With no SATA Express drives on the market, using that new feature becomes a future play, requiring a strong market and uptake of suitable products available.</span></div> <div><span style="font-size: small;"><br /> </span></div> <div><span style="font-size: small;">While users often invest in a PC for it to remain future proof and still be alive and kicking with the best of them in three to five (or even seven) years down the line, predicting where the storage market might be requires channelling the spirit of Storage Future. Even Jacob Marley cannot help you there. SATA Express could take off, or fall flat on its face, or be a long tapered out affair similar to Thunderbolt adoption. We do not know which way for certain, and neither do the motherboard manufacturers. MSI, on this Z97 MPower Max AC, has decided to put its eggs into M.2 (users can select between M.2 or two SATA ports), but not SATA Express, whereas the other motherboard manufacturers, when sending us their launch products, are hoping that SATA Express takes off.</span></div> <div><span style="font-size: small;"><br type="_moz" /> </span></div> <div><span style="font-size: small;"><a href="http://www.anandtech.com/show/7966/msi-z97-mpower-max-ac-review-overclocking-air-water-heatsink-260" target="_blank">Read more...</a></span></div>

Investing in the top range motherboard should afford a few privileges. It should come with extra features, extra components in the box, and where possible the manufacturer should put time and effort into better performance. The ASUS Z97-Deluxe (NFC & WLC) tips the scales at $400, but comes with Thunderbolt 2, an NFC connection system, a Wireless Charging system, dual SATA Express, dual Ethernet ports, 2T2R 802.11ac WiFi, M.2. support and a total of 10 SATA/USB 3.0 ports.

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This model uses a full set of Intel Z87 features. Besides, it provides additional set of MSI brand technologies. Theoretically it looks good, but lets take a look on practical work. How will it operate during nominal mode and overclocking?

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